The most recent session of Feints & Gambits picked up almost immediately after the previous session. Our heroes had retreated, bloodied1 but unbowed2, from their… conversation, let’s call it… with Nightingale the Robber and his army of monsters beneath the catacombs of Christchurch Cathedral. They had some ideas about who stole the heart of St. Laurence O’Toole, and an idea about which direction it had been taken.
After some discussion about the relative merits of finding another gate into Hell3 – like, say, the bricked-up entry by the Cook Street Gate – and trying to beat some more information out of the Russian contingent, they decided to just focus on finding the heart. They wanted to start with some divination, but one of the problems with that is the fact that Dublin has the Liffey running right through the heart of it, and that means that they often need to cast the spell twice – once on each side of the river.
But they really just wanted to find where the thieves4 went when they came out of the underground portion of the Poddle. So, they went to the point where the Poddle enters the Liffey, and Mark whipped up a divination ritual.
Well, I say “whipped up,” but it was a pretty impressive undertaking. In a matter of fifteen minutes or so, he managed to gather enough extra elements for the spell5 to pull off a complexity 15 ritual6. He decided to cast it slowly, drawing two shifts of power each turn, which meant he’d have to roll -4 on his dice to lose control any turn.
Now, I didn’t want to make things too easy7, so once he made it up to 10 shifts of power, I had a couple of cops come along to ask what was going on. Aleister intercepted them and spun some story about street theatre, which let Mark finish his spell and unleash it.
The idea behind the spell was to look back through time to the moment the thieves left the Poddle and entered the Liffey, with Mark knowing that he’d probably lose them once they moved out on to the water. But I figured that, for 15 shifts of power sucked in for character reasons, I should go one better. So, I gave Mark a vision of the little boat coming out into the Liffey, then across the Liffey and downstream to one of the quayside docks, where the passengers disembarked and headed north-east into the city. He also overheard a few snippets – “She can use this” and “Raise the clans” foremost among them.
The gang immediately tried to figure out where their targets were heading, asking me what was in that direction. I blinked at them and said, “Well, the docks, sort of, and besides that, about HALF THE CITY.” The pushed a bit for historically or mythologically significant sites in that direction, and I got a bit short, finally telling them “You’re barking up the wrong tree. You won’t find them just by guessing where they went. You need more information.”8
So, off they went, looking for more information9. They didn’t have enough of a symbolic link to either the thieves or the heart to use divination to find them, and Rogan wasn’t able to follow their scent trail. Eventually, they went back to The Hole in the Wall10 to rest and regroup. It was there that someone mentioned going to the statue of the Fates in St. Stephen’s Green to see if they could get any information from them.
They waited for nightfall, and then headed off through Temple Bar to get to the Green and the statue. Along the way, they spotted someone keeping pace with them on the rooftops, and so ducked through an open square to lose them. At the park, Nathan tossed a coin in the fountain, and opened his third eye.
He managed to get three questions from the Fates, in return for three favours to be specified in the future, swearing on his name11 and power to pay the debt. In return, he found out that the heart was soon going to be beating in someone’s chest, and the True Name of that person, and the True Name of the person giving the heart to him12.
He also spent some Fate Points to be able to close his third eye after looking at the Fates with the Sight.
And then they made their way back. They were deliberately keeping an eye out for people on the rooftops, and when they got to the square they had crossed earlier, they spotted figures on the on one side. Things kinda went to hell, here, as Nate opened up with a flashbang spell on the figure, and was immediately shot by high-powered rifles from a couple of different sides. He went down – hard – conceding to stay alive and earn some Fate points.
There followed some manic scrambling that resulted in a big panic in the middle of Temple Bar. In the end, two of their opponents were down, including one dead and one dying. Our heroes beat a hasty retreat to The Hole in the Wall and barricaded themselves in for the night, after getting a doctor in for Nate.
In the morning, just after dawn, a small, pretty woman approached the shop, very carefully keeping her hands visible. In the tense, distrustful parley that followed, she explained that she represented the Malleus Maleficarum, and that it had been the Malleus on the rooftops, hoping that the gang would lead them to the stolen heart. Being trained to react instantly to magical attack, Nate’s spell caused them all to open fire on the obvious wizard13, and thus the event deteriorated into FUBAR territory.
Recognizing that the group and the Malleus had irreconcilable agendas, the visitor14 proposed a hands-off approach, whereby each side would do its best to avoid interfering in the actions of the other. After some discussion, the group agreed to this, and Sister Mary Simon went on her way without having to resort to threats or force.
Once everyone was more-or-less recovered from the previous evening’s exertions, they cast a divination spell to lead them to the person who was supposed to be receiving the heart. With the True Name, it was pretty easy, and they wound up at a residential hotel. They saw some graffiti on the wall that read “TÃ¡ an rÃ-ard ag teacht!” which15 means “The High King is coming!”
Up in the hotel, they met Liam Dalton and Moira Trevelyan, and Liam invited them to join his crusade to break the hold the faeries have on Ireland.
Fade to black for the end of the session.
So, now we’ve got to the beginning of the endgame. Next session, the gang will find out what joining Liam means, and will get to decide if they want to do that. Either way, I’ve got the big events of the last part of the game sketched out in my notes, and they’ll work no matter which side the PCs take.
It should be fun.
- Mostly metaphorically.
- Both metaphorically and literally.
- As the underground tunnels of Dublin are known.
- Whom they presumed to be the mummies missing from St. Michan’s Church crypts.
- Including an elaborate magical circle on the pavement and the hunting instincts of Rogan, the Were-Smilodon.
- He’d been planning on doing complexity 10, but Nate goaded him on, thanks to the player-on-player compels we’re using.
- Also, I didn’t want to let casting a big spell right out in public be something that the players could do without consequence; if it was that easy, why weren’t they doing it all the time, after all?
- I was, I admit, a bit flustered and snappish for a couple of reasons. First, I hadn’t decided precisely where they were headed at that point. Second, I couldn’t list a whole bunch of appropriate sites in the area off the top of my head. And third – most tellingly, I think – I was dealing with some significant joint pain. There were a couple of occasions during the session when I was harsher than I should have been because of that last point. I apologized to everyone afterward, but it bears repeating. Sorry, guys.
- And yes, I understand that their questions that I shut down were an attempt to get more information. I already said I was sorry.
- The bookstore/tattoo parlour owned by the O’Malley brothers.
- And saying that name out loud, so now the Fates have his True Name. If they didn’t already, that is.
- Liam Dalton and Moira Trevelyan. Yeah, the names probably aren’t correct for the period and place, but I hadn’t thought ahead far enough to come up with names, so these were the best I could do on short notice.
- After all, in a conflict between mundanes and wizards, these guys know that mundanes have to act fast and with overwhelming force to have a hope of surviving.
- Who happened to be the hot nun mentioned by Aleister’s friend last game.
- According to Google Translate, anyway. It’s not like I can actually speak Irish Gaelic. If anyone out there reading this spots an error, I’d appreciate hearing about it.